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"I was perfectly satisfied to write science fiction knowing that it would pay very little, that it would be seen by only a very few people."
- Isaac Asimov

Free-fall Couch  
  Furniture that achieves the comfort of free-fall, the weightless condition normally achieved only in space.  

There are several purposes to sleeping or lying in null-gravity, or something like it. The most important is that, since you aren't touching anything, you are unlikely to be disturbed by outside sensations.

BB Surbringer was my AI expert. BB worked in Hegemony Flow Control Records and Statistics and spent most of his life reclining on a free-fall couch with half a dozen microleads running from his skull while he communed with other bureaucrats in datumplane.
From Hyperion, by Dan Simmons.
Published by Doubleday in 1989
Additional resources -

In the novel, the person who uses it has projected his awareness into cyberspace; he wants to reduce outside stimulation to a minimum.

In the 1950's, psychologists developed a very specialized device called a sensory deprivation or isolation tank to try to answer questions about what the brain did without stimulation. What Dr. John Lilly found was startling:

    "Somewhere, deep within the brain, was a mechanism capable of generating internal experiences completely independent of the outside world, and this settled the issue of what happens in profound physical isolation. The mind does not pass into unconsciousness, the brain does not shut down. Instead, it constructs experience out of stored impressions and memories. The isolated mind becomes highly active and creative."
I think that it is this image that the author is trying to evoke using the idea of a "free-fall" couch.

Is it really easier to sleep in free-fall? According to a study conducted on two flights in 1998, five astronauts stopped snoring almost completely. They also experienced fewer episodes of sleep apnea (temporarily cessation of breathing) and hypopnea (shallow breathing, both of which cause disturbance to sleep. See Sleep Better in Space.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Hyperion
  More Ideas and Technology by Dan Simmons
  Tech news articles related to Hyperion
  Tech news articles related to works by Dan Simmons

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